Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Organ situation

A number of people are professing to be shocked, truly shocked, that a Dutch TV show has been built around a terminal patient who during the course of the show will get her kidney when she dies. The producers say they have done it to highlight the shortage of donors in the Netherlands. But folks like Nightline think the premise is just so ... icky! ... and EU parliamentarians call it unethical and "wretched." Many have questioned whether it should be allowed to go on, which it apparently will.

Almost nobody has entertained or begun to come to grips with what is considered an even more apparently icky idea -- that the problem of organ donor shortages c0ould best be alleviated by allowing a market to develop in donor organs. Selling organs was outlawed in the U.S. in the 1980s -- a bill sponsored by the Congressman Al Gore -- and the shortage, utterly predictable, almost immediately ensued. But apparently our politicians, who are responsible for the shortage by outlawing the utterly reasonable idea of letting terminally ill people sell their organs for their or their heirs' benefit, whould rather watch black markets develop and deplore imaginative TV shows than allow the oh-so-horrendous idea of buying and selling body parts to have a chance.

This attitude refrects a deep-seated hostility to buying and selling, to the exchange of money in certain situations that I can't begin to explain, but it is profoundly sick and profoundly damaging to societal health.

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